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Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Cure RA?

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Cure RA?

As most of us living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) know all too well, many of the treatments currently available to treat RA only achieve mild to moderate improvements in disease symptoms. While these improvements are most certainly better than no treatment at all, for most of us “remission” seems to be a magical word that’s hopefully still hidden somewhere in the future.

Luckily, scientists are continuing to search for new treatment options that could potentially provide better results in the future – and sometimes it seems this search for answers leads to the very strangest places! A recent study from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California has determined that old world monkeys could be key to a new, powerful RA therapy.1

It turns out that this particular primate – mostly found in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa – has a particular peptide that isn’t found anywhere else in nature. A peptide is an organic substance that is structurally like a protein, only smaller. Traditionally, peptides are defined as molecules that consist of between 2 and 50 amino acids, whereas proteins generally have 50 or more amino acids. Peptides also tend to be less well defined in structure than proteins.

The particular peptide that researchers found in the old world monkeys is called RTD-1. Researchers believe that it may actually have the potential to stop or even reverse the progression of RA. Previous studies had demonstrated that RTD-1 peptide was able to modulate lethal inflammation in animal models of infection. Based on those findings, the researchers in this study predicted that RTD-1’s protective mechanisms would also translate to RA, a disease in which chronic inflammation produces irreversible joint damage.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers administered RTD-1 to rats with arthritis for 11 days and then observed whether the treatment had any positive effects on the rats’ arthritis. Within 24 hours of RTD-1 being administered, it had significantly reduced arthritis progression in the rats. At the end of the 11 days, the rats that had received RTD-1 also had markedly lower arthritis severity scores as compared to the control rats that had not received RTD-1.

The same process was then completed on rats with more severe arthritis. The research team discovered that RTD-1 produced a rapid reduction in arthritis severity within 48 hours of treatment. Within 15 days of initiating this treatment, the treated rats had experienced complete resolution of clinical disease.

Lastly, the researchers compared the RTD-1 treatment to traditional RA treatments methotrexate and etanercept (Enbrel). They tested these three treatments on rats with severe arthritis and found that of the three options, the RTD-1 achieved the highest rate of complete disease remission.

The study concluded that RTD-1 has excellent potential as a completely new agent for treating RA. The researchers also hypothesized that RTD-1-like molecules could also be potentially effective in the treatment of other inflammatory diseases, or even cancer.

While it’s always exciting to see potential new treatments for RA being researched, wouldn’t it be even more fun to be able to say: a monkey cured my RA!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.



  • snibbs1420
    10 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this! I love reading about the amazing research others are doing, it gives me great hope that things will change for the better sooner than we may think. I read that they were due to begin human clinical trials in “Early 2018”. I wonder where they are at with this? I haven’t seen any follow ups.

  • carl87
    2 years ago

    I am a 50 years old female diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 2 years ago but have had symptoms for at least 20 years. I was taking methotrexate and Cymbalta, as well as infusions of Remicade, nothing worked for me. All my pain was from my waist down and certainly not something I can stand. The only treatment that has been successful has been the taking of RA herbal remedy i purchased from Best Health herbal centre. I now wake up every morning without pain. I have been pain-free period for more than 4 months. I have regular blood tests and do not experience any of the side effects from taking the herbal remedy. Thank God this works for me. I feel great!.

  • Carla Kienast
    2 years ago

    As much as I hate having RA, I love all the research that the disease is driving. While the study focused on “arthritis” this could have widespread application for many, many inflammatory-related diseases and could bring hope (and health) to patients that don’t yet have a cure. Thanks for sharing this study!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    2 years ago

    I wonder how they would introduce this component? Through a biologic or something else?

    I think at this point we just need something completely different. Biologics are great if a patient finds one that works for them, but they don’t always give enough relief.

    This is definitely a cool idea…I hope they continue to study it!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 years ago

    It would be amazing to see a new medication type come into the marketplace. I am so hopeful science will find new approaches. Please we need new approaches because a willingness to try new things will give us new outcomes or at the least it will eliminate the duds.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    2 years ago

    I completely agree, Rick. The current medications are great but it really is a coin toss if they work or not. I hope as time goes on that we find a new innovative way to help a larger group of chronic illness sufferers with a more broad rate of success.

    Hey, maybe one day there will be a way to put RA into remission completely?? Well, I guess we can only hope, right?

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